Project will separate hikers and bikers on W&OD trail in Northern Virginia

A popular hiking and biking trail in Northern Virginia is going to get a makeover.

Regional leaders broke ground Wednesday in Falls Church to convert the first 1.5 miles of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail into separate paths for pedestrians and bicyclists.

A 2-foot median will keep pedestrians and bicyclists apart, with pedestrians restricted to an 8-foot walking path and cyclists rolling on an 11-foot bike path.

The trail, like others in the area, has experienced increased use during the pandemic by people under lockdown hankering for exercise and fresh air. It has made the popular trail even more congested. Separating users who are moving at much different rates of speed is expected to improve both safety and mobility.

NOVA Parks is receiving $3.24 million in funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority for the enhancements on the trail in Falls Church. The dual trail conversion will eventually be carried into sections in Arlington County and elsewhere in the years ahead.

The W&OD trail extends 45 miles from Shirlington in Arlington County to Purcellville in Loudoun County.

Other enhancements in the project include improved stormwater management and the addition of meadow grasses to raise biodiversity for birds and pollinators.

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